Tag Archives: holidays in writing

Writing Tips: Holidays (2)

29 Nov

It was Thanksgiving here in the United States yesterday, and I wanted to take a moment today to thank everyone for being part of such a wonderful supportive WordPress family. So…thank you 😀

Here’s a short update: it’s been a crazy good week for me. I received the final edits for Seconds Before Sunrise, and I sent out the cover to the blogs participating in the cover reveal on December 1. (If you want your blog to be involved, feel free to send me a message at shannonathompson@aol.com) I’m very excited for the cover reveal! But, speaking of December 1, don’t forget you could win a signed paperback of Minutes Before Sunset. The raffle ends on December 1–the day of the cover reveal! Enter the raffle here.

I love holidays. I even wrote about how you can use holidays in writing. If you read Writing Tips: Holidays last July, then you know my two basic rules: (I would suggest reading the first piece before continuing below.)

1. Pick a Holiday Carefully

2. Consider Creating Your Own Holiday

In Minutes Before Sunset, I did both. Independence Day happens twice, and it holds special meaning for both the protagonist and the overall theme of the story. We also saw The Naming ceremony–a holiday of the Dark’s–and completely fictional. But today I’m discussing a new aspect of including holidays that I didn’t mention before while giving a little sneak peek into the upcoming novel, Seconds Before Sunrise

So you might be asking, “What holidays and celebrations will we see in the second book of The Timely Death Trilogy?”

Well, Thanksgiving, of course! I will say there is more than this celebration that takes place, but Thanksgiving is particularly important to Seconds Before SunriseLike the first novel, the holiday was chosen carefully. It came down to irony, symbolism, and timing–just like I wrote in Writing Tips: Holidays. But I think the most interesting part for me came down to how Eric and Jessica experienced this holiday differently. How they look at it, think about it, and interact with others during it differed for a reason, and this is why I’m talking about it today.

It might seem obvious: everyone celebrates (or doesn’t celebrate) holidays differently. But even if they are celebrating differently, they also feel and act differently–something they might not even be fully aware of. The others around them are the same way.

I know. I know. What am I getting at? I’m basically saying everyone is different. That’s obvious. But I think I want to change something about my original post Writing Tips: Holidays. Maybe those first two rules aren’t separate rules at all. Maybe they are one in the same.

Pick a Holiday Carefully & Consider Creating Your Own Holiday

My Thanksgiving isn’t the same as another person’s Thanksgiving and that goes for all holidays. In a way, each unique tradition is its own holiday. So using a holiday already known while combining it with special traditions–in a way–is creating your own holiday.

We all celebrate differently, after all.


Dec. 1: Seconds Before Sunrise Cover Reveal

Dec. 3: Check Out These Blogs


Writing Tips: Holidays

5 Jul

As promised, I’m continuing writing tips, and today I am concentrating on the use of holidays in literature. No matter what culture you have or what country you live in, you probably celebrate holidays. I think this is a beautiful thing. Not only do holidays give us an opportunity to remember aspects of life like love, parents, or independence–they also allow us to dedicate the entire day to it. So why not use holidays in our novels to do the same thing?

Happy late Independence Day!

Happy late Independence Day!

There actually are reasons to NOT do this. They can easily come across as cheesy or distracting instead of symbolic. This brings me to my first rule:

Pick a Holiday Carefully: 

Holidays are often unnecessary, so choose carefully if you decide to use one. This is simply a personal preference, but I think holidays become something more when the author uses it in a symbolic manner rather than an event that simply happens. But I think that goes for an entire novel. All events should mean something within the plot, so why shouldn’t a holiday? For example, Minutes Before Sunset begins on Independence Day (Happy belated Fourth by the way!) I did this for three reasons:

  1. Irony: Minutes Before Sunset has a huge theme about fate and choice. Independence Day is…well…as it sounds: Independence Day for America–the setting of the novel. Because of this, it can symbolize the beginning of independence. It can also symbolize the opposite: lack of independence. This is what I’m talking about. The holiday now has two meanings. It fits the plot, and it fits whatever the reader wants it to be.
  2. Symbolic: Minutes Before Sunset is about the Light and the Dark. To me, this holiday involve a major ritual that is very light versus the dark: fireworks. I thought it represented the powers well, but it also represented Eric’s confusion in the beginning.
  3. Timing: it fit. Although I don’t want to admit this is a reasoning, because it seems to take away the meaning, it is, without a doubt, one of the biggest things authors have to consider. Does it fit your plot without straining the time or the characters? Use the holiday if it fits naturally. If it doesn’t, move on to my next topic. You may want to consider it 😀

Considering Creating Your Own Holiday: I think this is great in any kind of novel, not just sci-fi and fantasy. It can show a unique side to a character, family, or community, which, in turn, can create a more believable or relatable setting. This can also apply to creating a special event. Fun fact: Minutes Before Sunset has a “made-up” celebratory event: The Naming. This is when the shades receive their powers. I really enjoyed creating this, but, to my surprise, a lot of readers found interest in it as well:

Ky Grabowski wrote: “A part of the book I really liked was the naming ceremony that is held when kids turn of age to receive their powers. A big part of the Shade’s history. The ceremony is not all it’s shown to be with glitter and crowns. Eric shares his thoughts while watching it all unfold & he makes note that what was in store for the future was far from something to celebrate. They had responsibilities and a lot of pressure comes with that.” Read rest of her review here.

Basically: Holidays are great. That’s why there are entire books about them, like “A Dog Named Christmas” by Greg Kincaid.

Fireworks on the lake

Fireworks on the lake

I hope all of your writings are going well, and don’t forget that Goodreads Book of the Month, Minutes Before Sunset, is on sale for $3.89 (ebook) to celebrate the award! I’m also giving free copies away for review: email shannonathompson@aol.com

Available now on AmazonBarnes & NobleSmashwordsKoboDieselSony, and Apple.


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